Crying Wolf

With every typhoon the news programs seem to overhype the potential dangers of the coming storm. They warn about flying debris, flooding, unpredictable rivers, public transit cancellations, power failures, food shortages, tornadoes, and everything short of a plague of locusts. 99% of the time, we just get high winds and a lot of rain. Damage is minimal aside from one or two cherry-picked scenes of destruction that get played over and over as justification for the shrill siren calls of the newsrooms. The typhoon that is due to strike this part of Japan in about three hours time is being hailed as “the largest typhoon since 1964” which, given how often I’ve heard that line in the last 11 years, I find highly suspect.

Before the Storm

Here it is, 5:00pm in central Japan, and we have zero rain. The winds have picked up. There’s a lot of cloud cover. All the signs of an impending storm are on the way … yet there are people walking in the park. Nozomi and I are enjoying a brief respite at our preferred park bench. Where is this monster storm that the weather people have claimed would drench the area with flash floods starting 36 hours ago?

The weather desks can be forgiven for the occasional error in storm prediction, but this pattern seems to happen with each and every typhoon. Given that there are generally thirty per year, hyping up storms unnecessarily will only do more harm than good because when a real danger approaches, people will assume it’s just hyperbole like all the previous storm reports. Given the state of our technology and century of historical weather data, one would think our predictions and reports could be a lot more accurate.